Habitat for Humanity helps community training scheme

Forty students have graduated from a construction training course after gaining on the job experience at a development where the charity is building 32 low-cost homes.

The Learn for Life training programme is aimed at those who have traditionally not taken up learning opportunities and the long-term unemployed, with the goal of enabling learners to develop confidence in a wide range of skills and progress into further education or employment.

Twenty-five students gained a construction skills certification scheme card and a further 16 were awarded an accredited level 1 construction site and craft skills diploma from the Open College Network. In addition, 13 people attended joinery taster sessions to kickstart their learning. The students worked on Liverpool Habitat for Humanity's site in Granby-Toxteth where houses are being built for local people on land donated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, on Kingsley Road. The project has also received significant funding from NewHeartlands, the Housing Market Renewal Initiative on Merseyside.

One student who benefited from the project is Cliff Roberts, 37, from Crosby. Since quitting work as a tiler seven years ago to bring up his son Jake, on his own, Cliff had lost much of his self confidence and was looking for a boost to get him back into work. He enrolled on a course in presentation skills and, following one class, learned of LHFH's link to the Learn for Life programme.

He explained: "I was still interested in tiling and I discovered the six-week course offered by LHFH also enabled me to develop skills in bricklaying and joinery.

"Since completing the diploma I've got a lot of more confidence in myself. It was really enjoyable working on site and I was made to feel very welcome."

Dad of two Cliff, who now lives with his partner Denise Colbert, son Jake, and the family's newest addition, six-month old Zack, graduated with a level 1 construction site and craft skills diploma and also gained his CSCS card – essential to work on a building site.

He added: "With my new qualifications and confidence, I should find it much easier to find a job in construction."

Approved by the Open College Network and supported financially by the Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities Fund, LHFH has run two 12-week diploma courses over the last year and four three-day taster courses from February to June.

Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside, handed out the awards. She said: "I am very, very impressed with the wonderful achievements of the students and the self-confidence the course has given them. I very much hope that this will be a springboard for them to future success."

The housing charity is building 32 low-cost homes off Kingsley Road using volunteer labour and donations of land, material and money. Each home owner is required to contribute a minimum of 500 hours of their own labour – called sweat equity – into the building process.

In exchange, LHFH offers £10,000 towards the deposit required to obtain a mortgage. The houses are sold to the families on a shared equity basis and, after one year, home-owners can gradually increase their ownership to 100%.

Working alongside volunteers and homeowners on site and in a specially created training workshop, the students undertook a variety of tasks, including installing kitchens and skirting, fitting architrave and hanging doors.

Construction training manager for LHFH, Wendy Heller, is hoping to secure NLDC funding for the training courses for another year. She said: "Our graduates have all done an incredible job and should feel very proud of their achievements. Not only have they gained new skills to take with them into the work place, they have helped build homes for people on low incomes, who may not have otherwise been able to afford a property of their own.

"Their hard work has now paid off and I wish them all the success in the world for their future careers."

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